The deal is done: Texas A&M and Missouri are out and West Virgina and TCU are in. All four teams in this realignment carousel are counting on their move to “greener pastures” being the best thing for their institutions.
The Aggies and Tigers are moving to the SEC where they feel they will be better off away from the Big 12, Texas and Oklahoma. TCU and WVU are moving to increase their national relevance, increase their bank accounts and improve their overall positions in the BCS picture.
One of the things that I want to do here is try to compare WVU to what was lost to the SEC. How well do the Mountaineers fill the gap vacated by Missouri and/or Texas A&M?
Historically all three universities began playing college football at about the same time. West Virginia played its first college game in 1891 while Missouri and Texas A&M started in 1890 and 1894. Of the three schools, Texas A&M is the only one with a national championship, which came in 1939. West Virginia and Missouri both have 15 conference titles while Texas A&M has 18.
If you look at Heisman winners you will see that the Aggies again have an edge, as John David Crow won the 1957 Heisman. The Mountaineers and Tigers have not yet had a winner of the prestigious award.
There is more to history than championships and award winners, however; traditions also have to weigh in. While the current transformation of college football is slowly moving away from rivalries and even regions (as in West Virginia’s case), the traditions that remain or that are being reborn will be even more important to fans.
West Virginia’s rivalry with Pittsburgh will definitely go on at least a temporary hiatus for a few seasons, as will the Kansas and Missouri “Border War”—the Aggies will be able to rekindle their rivalry with LSU, against whom they have played 50 games dating back to 1899.
So how does West Virginia compare statistically over the past 10 seasons?
Statistically the Mountaineers match up quite well. Going back over the last 10 seasons (2002-2011), the Mountaineers have an overall record of 95-33 and made a bowl game each of those seasons with a 5-5 record, including three BCS bowl wins. West Virginia has also defeated 17 out of 33 opponents that were ranked in the Top 25.
Missouri has an overall record of 82-46 since 2002 with a bowl record of 4-6 (no BCS bowls) and 11 wins against the 33 Top 25 opponents that it faced.
Texas A&M, with its 64-60 record, went 1-5 in bowl games (no BCS bowls) during the last 10 years and defeated 12 of 48 ranked opponents.
We can come to any conclusion we want, but it is clear (at least to me) that West Virginia makes a good replacement for the two SEC-bound teams. West Virginia was even being considered by the SEC as an option along with Missouri. Alabama head coach and West Virginia native Nick Saban even lobbied for WVU instead of Missouri.
It is this Mountaineer fan's opinion that WVU can compete and win in the Big 12 on a yearly basis.
Will they lose? Sure, they will lose games. Will they win? Absolutely!